March Favorites and Updates

We finally met all the deadlines at work this past week. I can breathe again.

With slightly warmer weather, I’ve been browsing the plant nurseries. We picked up some spring flowers to add to our containers. Ever since I moved away from Scarlett, I no longer have a yard to garden in.
We have several containers and I am working on refreshing them with compost and fish emulsion fertilizer.

I plan to grow a cherry or grape style tomato, some peas and sunflowers for Sagan. He is recently interested in how to plant a seed and watch it grow.

With the changing seasons, I’m looking to find a new lightweight cotton blanket for our bed. We used grey and white in our bedroom so I am considering this one.

Also loving these printed kitchen towels.

I received my Write On Campaign kit and cannot wait to start creating pieces of mail to send out every day in April.

Got my Malaysian food fix last night – Roti Jala with some lamb curry and Chili Pan Mee. Delicious.

Best part of March is coming up – we leave for Maui in 9 days! Aloha!

What was your favorite part of March so far?

3 weeks into the new year

Wow, I cannot believe how the first 3 weeks of 2016 have already passed us by.

There have been quite a few changes in my life (wellness, work, habits), while the important anchors (family, home, hobbies) are still present.

We started Whole30 about 11 days ago so I should be “killing all the things” but I am actually feeling the “tiger blood” phase sooner than expected. Sorry for the Whole30 jargon 🙂 basically, I am past the difficult phase of transition and I feel like my body is liking me better. And hello my new friend, black coffee!

Last weekend, I was at the company annual conference and experienced a really great speaker – Drew Dudley. You might have heard him on a TED talk but I enjoyed listening to him talk about how we can all be leaders in our world and what it really means to be a leader. Very inspiring.

I’m still listening to my podcasts and lately, a new favorite – Imaginary Worlds. If you love sci-fi and fantasy, this is for you.

Work stress is accumulating so I need to keep up with my Headspace sessions. I do feel it when I miss them.

At home, I’ve been rearranging my workspace. It’s not quite where I LOVE it but when I get it there, I’ll be sure to share a pic. You can see a part of it in my Instagram feed to the left.

Are you still reading here? If you are, I’d love to hear from you.

December Rewind

I wanted to do a quick rewind for December since I completely forgot about posting. I post more frequently on Instagram and Twitter. It’s just much easier to snap and post with my new iPhone 6s Plus. I wasn’t sure if I wanted such a big phone but now that I have it, I am so happy with it.

Work kept me busy as usual but the last 2 weeks were a little slower since most people were out on vacation.

The first weekend saw us celebrating our 13 years together at a winery in Quincy WA. It was such a fun time to spend with only each other – wine tasting, hot stone massages and a languorous dinner with more wine.

Vines resting for the wintertime #stefmike13

A photo posted by @astromei on

I actually returned to the kitchen quite a bit too. I haven’t really been cooking as much in the last 2 years. I still do simple meals but nothing elaborate. I have not been inspired. This past month, the baking bug bit me. I made peanut butter cookies, coconut macaroons and bacon gingersnaps. All delicious if I might say so myself.

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps, thanks to @seriouseats

A photo posted by @astromei on

We celebrated our first Feast of Seven Fishes. It was our excuse to eat good seafood on Christmas Eve. We made chorizo-stuffed squid, smoked oyster pate, smoked salmon canapés, seared scallops, baked shrimp scampi, Dungeness crab and black-bean sautéed Manila clams. SO good!

Christmas morning was filled with Sagan’s excitement. He is really into Christmas. It’s the perfect age. The rest of the time was quiet but staying in pajamas, listening to music, and watching movies made it perfect.

Then we went and watched the new Star Wars movie. I am still reeling from it. I felt like an 8 year old all over again.

Last night was another New Year’s Eve that we stayed in. However, there were no fireworks audible in our new place. That was refreshing. I kissed Mike just before midnight and just before we fell asleep, Sagan woke with complaints of growing pains. Poor little guy. (He’s fine now, it just comes occasionally in the night)

I think that brings us up to today, Jan 1 2016. Happy New Year, my friends! So far today, I’ve gone to the grocery store so we can have some good eats this weekend, undressed the Christmas tree and put away the decorations. Now I’m sitting down to finish up this post and continue binge-watching “How to Get Away with Murder”.

HAPPY 2016! This year, I seek to LIVE, LEARN and LOVE!

Marinades

For those of you waiting patiently for my AFTER picture of the dining/kitchen space, I am almost there. Thank you for waiting, it’s almost there. I just have to get that corner and the wall re-imagined. The pic above is just a teaser of our new dining pendant. If you are follow my Pinterest boards, you’ll know which one I picked.

For the wall, I decided to go with what I have, in terms of art. Since the wall is right behind the back door of the house, crowded shelves are  not a good idea. I had a shelf there before but it seemed too crowded. The kitchen cart and oven are going away and I will need to find a new spot for my rubber plant. I’m looking forward to the final reveal, just as much as you are.

In the kitchen, I’ve been making up different meat marinades. This weekend, I modified this marinade for some galbi/short ribs. Instead of sugar, I used kecap manis. It gave a good flavor and nice caramel color. Instead of pear, I used apple sauce. The sweetness of this marinade probably doesn’t make it paleo or primal. Still, it is so very tasty.

I also made some char siew/Chinese BBQ pork. Bee has a wonderful recipe that smells just like char siew should smell. I know that is an odd comment to make but you know how sometimes you try to recreate a flavor and you never quite know that secret ingredient/s? Bee shared a recipe that brings me home.

Project Renew Scarlett: Dining/Kitchen (Before)

Remember that fun design camp with AB Chao? Yes, she inspired a wealth of ideas and even though my one big project that I brought to her and the group was my master bedroom, I saw “low hanging fruit” in my dining and kitchen.

This is how things look like now – the BEFORE. I have notated the changes that I am going to make but just in case it is too small to read, here is the list:

  • change pendant lighting over the island in the kitchen
  • change dining room rug (bye bye, FLOR, you were great for the time we needed you for.)
  • move the ceiling fan to a different spot in the family room and replace with giant pendant light (with a dimmer! You’ll be proud, AB!)
  • redefine problem wall/corner near the back door – new art for the walls, probably a collage of favorite food-related prints or cookbooks.

I have received and gathered the items that will be going into these changes but I have not made any changes yet. I promise an AFTER picture and believe me, I am so very excited!

Mid August

Space Needle

Looking forward to Kim O’Donnel’s book The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook. I am such a meat lover myself so these recipes will help me enjoy delicious meals and eat less meat.

Last month, I made a really delicious butter mochi from Reid’s recipe. Now I’m craving it again. I might try this matcha version. I just have to make sure to make it matcha-y enough. I always don’t use enough matcha powder in my baked goods.

I love parties. Here’s a great idea for one – a Favorite Things party. (via A Chow Life) I can’t wait to have one with my girlfriends.

I love Mad Men. Look what folks behind Helvetica documentary remade – a 1960s poster promoting Helvetica.

This double sconce from Roll and Hill has caught my eye and I have just the spot for it.

Wondering what to do with all the zucchini showing up this time of the season? Here is some inspiration.

Simply summer

I have been enjoying these long days of late. I try not to fill my days with too many things but somehow it all goes so fast. I spend most of the day reading, checking blogs, keeping up with emails and thinking about new recipes but cooking familiar ones that I have neglected.

Around Scarlett, there has been a lot of cleaning and organizing going on. I think you have heard me mention this a couple of posts before. It has been a slow but really rewarding process. My new workspace is almost done. I just need a rug to tie the whole space together. I have also been living vicariously through the custom building process of my folks’ house. I am learning quite a bit in the process and look forward to seeing the house come together. So excited for my folks.

I made spaghetti tonight. Ripe tomatoes are just the epitome of summer. Marcella Hazan’s sauce is so easy and so delicious. If you haven’t tried it, what are you waiting for?

Today’s bits:

We painted our bathroom a while ago with a dark blue-grey and added a lot of industrial accents. I think these vintage-style pool locker baskets will make a really good accessory. You can find vintage ones on Etsy too.

Summers remind me of deviled eggs but these olive eggs look really tempting.

In Asia, it’s common to find a spray hose right by the side of the toilet bowl. It’s a hand-held bidet. While I was home this time, I got used to using one after going to the potty. I could get one of these diaper sprayers or I could make my own like in this video.

This weekend, we’re having a garage sale but what I’m really looking forward to are BBQ chicken wings. I plan to marinate my chicken wings with coke, honey and soy sauce. Then we throw them on the grill. Perfect for this weather. Scrummy.

Oh and the tacos in the picture are my favorite quick meal – tacos al pastor (spicy pork), tacos de lengua (tongue) and tacos de tripa (crispy spicy bits of fried tripe). So damn good.

Blue

One of my favorite surprises in the garden this year is the borage. These prickly herb plants look like weeds as they self-seed and show up as volunteers all over the garden, but when the flowers bloom, it makes all the difference. I don’t know if you can do anything with the prickly leaves but I love putting the blue flowers in iced drinks. They just look really pretty in a lemonade. As you can see, I have some harvesting to do.

Today’s bits
:

I wanted to visit Sapa, Vietnam this time when I was home in Singapore but things got busy and I took other trips. I would really like to go, especially since I have a good guide to take me around. In the meantime, I would like to read this beautiful book by Luke Nguyen.

With all the decluttering, I am now setting up a new office space in the house. I am leaning towards these acrylic organizers.

I always like that plain yeast or buttermilk donut. Maybe I should try this recipe out?

It’s been 5 years since I’ve been back to the San Juans, maybe this summer will be a good time to spend some time around those parts. Here’s a good guide from Sunset. [I miss the magazine, I did not renew my subscription when I was away in Singapore, time to renew it, I think!]

Thursday

Since I’ve been home from Singapore, Thursdays have become the day that I do my grocery shopping. It is far enough away from the weekend to avoid the crowds (especially in the Asian market) but still close enough to it to not miss out on the deals. Grocery shopping = shopping lists. For a while, I had been searching for a good iPhone app that I could use to create lists for shopping and other things. I would use the notepad application but it just didn’t work very well without the ability to check off the items as I went through the store. I think I have found the perfect list application for me – Crush App’s Paperless. I love how it looks (those cute icons!) and the ease of use. I have been using it for a few days now and love it! You should try it out for free and see if you like it, especially if making lists are your thing.

Today’s bits:

Lately, I have been thinking about sewing more. I think I’ll start easy again and try making some handmade napkins. I was doing my decluttering and found that I have very few cloth napkin options. These from Molly @ Purl Bee are too cute.

I am a sucker for good packaging and labels. I would find myself buying something I don’t really need because it was in a lovely package. I have 3 bottles of honey in the pantry but I would buy this bottle here. [via Lovely Package]

In the market for alphabet posters for your little one or yourself? Etsy has a good variety of them.

How adorable is this tea cosy from Robin and Mould’s Etsy shop? And this sleepy dog pillow is darling!

If you do screen captures for work or fun, Snagit is a common tool to use. It is now available in beta for Mac. Try it out, you might like it.

Popping up

Something's growing at my stairs

I bought this vinyl wall art 2 years ago for the living room makeover but we did not end up putting it up there. I think I have found the perfect spot for them. I placed them just at the corner of the stairs, they really look like they’ve always been there. Whenever I see them as I climb the stairs, it makes me smile.

I am so glad that the latest issue for Lonny is now out. I am still savoring each page.

There must be something creative I can do with these lovely textile colors from Jacquard. Oh, you should have seen my excitement when I saw that Blick has opened a store in Seattle right on Broadway, by Jimi’s statue!

This shower curtain will go well with the new Nocturnal Grey walls in the master bath. I can see skyscrapers right in my bathroom! I am such a city girl.

Erica tweeted about this blog – I love it, it makes me want to cook these recipes because of the great drawings.

That’s all for today, I have to go out to enjoy that sunshine before it goes away again.